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25 Feb

Can you live in a commercial property?


Living in commercial property may be something that most of us have never considered, but its popularity as a housing choice is rising. This is especially true in central London, where 10% of existing office spaces are empty and the prices for traditional houses are very high.

The versatility of office space in comparison to traditional residential properties also adds to its desirability. Large, open plan spaces are easy to convert and renovate without the restrictions common in period buildings, making them attractive prospects for those who do not mind carrying out a little renovation work.

The popularity of former commercial properties also reflects the growing trend for industrial interiors, visible pipes and wiring and brutalist features, as well as the increasing interest in live-work space across London and in other urban warehouse rental projects.

Of course there are things to consider before buying a commercial property to convert to residential. If the property has not already been officially given residential status, the building’s insurance will not cover residential occupants.

This is a legal liability and therefore the building’s status must be changed – you can’t just buy the property, renovate it and move in, as you would with an existing residential house or flat.

Therefore, if you want to convert a commercial property to residential in order to live in it, there are a few steps you need to take first.

Commercial property change of use to residential

If a building is still a registered commercial property, you may need to obtain planning permission before converting it into a residential space. This is definitely something to check before buying, as sometimes commercial property for sale already has planning permission for a conversion to residential.

In order to obtain planning permission you will need to apply to your council’s local planning authority (LPA). The application can cost anywhere from £80 to £200.

Bear in mind that if you go ahead with any building work without having permission, you may find yourself facing the financial and legal repercussions of a planning breach – something to be avoided.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

However, if you are planning on converting a commercial property, planning permission is not always necessary. The  2013 Permitted Development Rights (PDR) statute states that some types of commercial property do not need planning permission before being converted to residential.

Types of building covered by Permitted Development Rights may include:

  1. Offices
  2. Properties designed to carry out light industrial processes, such as factories, workshops and warehouses
  3. Shops and other properties where the size of the premises is no larger than 150 square metres

Make sure you know exactly what the law stipulates with regard to your property before beginning renovations.

You should also ensure that you seek prior approval from your local council before completing any major works, even if you positively determine that no planning permission is necessary. This should not cost more than £200.

Prior approval for renovation may come with conditions specific to a former commercial property, such as a limited time frame within which to complete all the building works. This depends on the type of commercial property you are converting.

If you need information or professional advice regarding commercial property, please get in touch and one of our talented team will be only too pleased to help you.

Get in touch

If you'd like to find out how you can benefit from our expert commercial property management service or you'd like to find out more about the commercial property services we offer, please just get in touch.

Call us on 020 8236 1050

or complete our online enquiry form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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